This coming Saturday we'll see titles being unified as OPBF Super Featherweight champion Hironori Mishiro (6-0, 2) takes on Japanese champion Masaru Sueyoshi (18-1, 11), with the winner becoming the de facto #2 in Japan behind WBO champion Masayuki Ito, and moving towards a world title fight of their own.
Although the less experienced of the two men Mishiro is the holder of the high level title, a title he won back in June when he out pointed Filipino Carlo Magali in a very close bout. Prior to that win he had scored notable domestic victories over Shuya Masaki and Shuma Nakazato, and was a former amateur standout. Despite his success he often been a frustrating fighter, showing little killer instinct and being dragged into longer and tough bouts than he probably wanted to have. At his best he is a wonderful fighter to watch, boxing at range and dictating the tempo is something he looks brilliant at. Up close however he can be made to look defensively flawed, open and easy to tag, and we do have questions about his chin and durability as well as his stamina.
If Mishiro can dictate the tempo and range of a fight he's going to be a very hard man to beat, but when he slows down he does look beatable, and this something he will have to work hard to improve as his career develops. After just 6 fights, and aged just 23, we don't expect him to be a complete fighter and in fact his flaws being so numerous make it clear just how much he has to work with already. He's quick, smart, rangy and very promising.
With 19 bouts under his belt Sueyoshi is far more experienced than Mishiro and at 27 he is more mature as a fighter. Not only that but he has been a professional for more than 7 years, and has faced several notable foes, including Masayuki Ito, Shingo Eto, Allan Vallespin and Ribo Takahata. He actually won the title by beating Takahata last October and has made two defenses, beating Ken Osato and Tsuyoshi Tojo.
Like Mishiro we see Sueyoshi as a frustrating fighter. He creates awkward distance and angles, and fighters very well off the back foot, in a rather unusual manner. He's not a puncher by any means, but when he lands clean he can score spectacular KO's, as he did against Vallespin. Instead he chips away at people, breaks them down mentally as well as physically and draws mistakes out of them. He's technically very good, and makes people pay for their mistakes, but has been dropped and hurt before and it's clear that whilst talented he may struggle against the bigger punchers if, or when, he mixes at world level.
We're expecting a bit of an awkward bout here. Both fighters set unusual distances and tempos. Of the two Mishiro is the more aggressive and Sueyoshi the more defensively minded, and given that polarity we do expect this to be a pretty fun bout. We favour Sueyoshi's experience over 10 rounds to get him to victory, but we wouldn't be surprised by a close decision either way in what could be a bout that frustrates at times but is very competitive through out.
To end the month of May Japanese fight fans get the chance to see the rescheduled Japanese Super Featherweight title bout, between defending champion Masaru Sueyoshi (17-1, 11) and 37 year old veteran Tsuyoshi Tojo (14-15-5, 3), who gets his first title shot.
The champion won the belt last year, beating Ribo Takahata for the title, which had been vacated by Kenichi Ogawa ahead of Ogawa's bout with Tevin Farmer. He would make his first defense this past February when he pulled himself off the canvas to stop Ken Osato in 8 rounds, with that win being Sueyoshi's 14th straight following a 2012 loss to Masayuki Ito. In the ring the champion is a pretty peculiar boxer, with a very unique style and awkward, almost frustrating sense of distance. He seems to fight a rather odd distance and timing and uses that to set up some unusual angles for counter punches. It often sees him look lazy on the back foot, until his opponent makes a mistake and he opens up.
Although awkward Sueyoshi is a really talented boxer-mover. He keeps fights at range, uses his impressive speed to counter and gets outside of his opponents range. He doesn't look like a puncher but does get the respect of most opponents, and when he lands cleanly he can turn the lights off on a fighter, with his KO win against Allan Vallespin last year being one of the best KO's in Japan in 2017. The power has also stopped the likes of Kazuma Sanpei, Nelson Tinampay and the aforementioned Osato.
We'll admit we feel frustrated watching Sueyoshi, as he seems to have a lot more in his arsenal than he sometimes shows and his use of distance and his patience is rather un-fan friendly, but when he's in full flow he looks a special fighter and would make for interesting bouts against the likes of Reiya Abe or Masao Nakamura down the line, both of whom would be interesting stylistic bouts for the champion.
Tojo, who made his debut back in 2003, has been a real servant to Japanese boxing and faced a relative who's who of the Japanese domestic scene. He has gone in there with Zuri Kanana, Hisashi Amagasa, Yuki Ogata, Hirotsugu Yamamoto, Rikiya Fukuhara, Koji Umetsu, Masaki Saito, Satoru Sugita and Daiki Kaneko. Sadly though he has struggled against the Japanese title level fighters and with father time battling against him too it's hard to imagine him giving the speedy Sueyoshi many problems.
Tojo is better than his record suggests, and many of his losses have come to good, solid fighters in often competitive bouts. He's also a very tough fighter, with only Daiki Kaneko actually stopping him, and even that took the heavy handed Kaneko 7 rounds. Despite being better than the numbers suggest he is still 37 years old and has gone 2-2-2 in the last 4 years, showing he's not in good form, he's old and whilst still a very busy fight in between the ropes his lack of power is a major issue against a counter puncher like Sueyoshi.
We're expecting a pretty straight forward win for the champion. Sueyoshi will be too quick and too smart for Tojo. Sadly though we're not expecting a particularly enjoyable bout, with the styles not likely to gel brilliantly, and Sueyoshi playing it safe early on before moving up a gear later in the fight to take a straight forward win. Tojo's toughness will likely carry him to the final bell, but we don't see him doing enough to make this a close or competitive bout with the younger, fresher, smart man.
The 2018 Champion Carnival is a real mixed bag of fights. It was officially supposed to begin back on January 20th, with Ryo Akaho defending the Japanese Bantamweight title, but ill health forced him to vacate the title instead and as a result we'll have to wait until this coming Saturday to the see the first bout. Thankfully the wait seems to be worth it and we'll see Masaru Sueyoshi (16-1, 10) defending the Japanese Super Featherweight title against Ken Osato (13-1-1, 4). The bout looks really even on paper, features a fighter making his first defense against a fighter in his first title bout, and is a solid headliner for a Dynamic Glove card on G+.
Of the two men it's the champion who is the more well known. He has been on a number of G+ shows and faced several fighters of note. One of those was Masayuki Ito, who gave Sueyoshi his sole loss back in 2012, in what was Sueyoshi's 4th professional bout, whilst others have included Kazuma Sanpei, Shingo Eto, Allan Vallespin and Ribo Takahata.
In the ring Sueyoshi can be a frustrating fighter who sometimes seems to set a peculiar range and tempo. Whilst that clearly gives opponents headaches it can also be annoying for fans and it often seems like Sueyoshi is a touch too negative and too busy looking to fight on the back foot. It's something that has worked for him, and sometimes in eye catching fashion like his eye catching KO win over Vallespin last year, but can be very awkward to watch.
In his title win Sueyoshi impressively out boxed Takahata. It wasn't a performance without frustrations, but it was one that proved Seuyoshi can go 10 rounds at a good tempo, can take a shot and win in a battle against a hardened veteran. It wasn't an eye opening and outstanding win, but it was a very solid performance from the Teiken man, who turned 27 the day after the win.
The 23 year old Osato earned his shot at the title last December, when he took a split decision over 2-time title challenger Satoru Sugita, in what was a very competitive and interesting fight in Osaka. The win saw Osato extend his current unbeaten run to 10 fights, following an opening round KO defeat to Shohei Fujimoto in September 2013. His current 10 fight unbeaten run includes notable domestic wins over Retsu Kosaka, Sho Nagata and Sugita, as well as a draw with Kento Matsushita.
Against Sugita we saw Osato look sharp, aggressive and accurate in the early stages, with a busy snappy jab and a snappy right hand. He seemed to outbox the talented Sugita in the early stages and clearly build his confidence. His problem in the bout was that he slowed down as we went into the later rounds and Sugita's experience allowed him back into the bout. The shots that were landing clean in the early stages were missing and he was being countered regularly, whilst showing an inability to to adapt.
At times Osato has looked great, as he did early on against Sugita, but the question for him is whether he can do it for 10 rounds against someone as tricky and awkward as Sueyoshi. If he can then we could see a new champion. Our feeling however is that Sueyoshi's extra experience at a higher level, and training at the Teiken gym, will be enough for him to take home the win in a hotly contested battle.
The Super Featherweight division has been one of the most significant ones in Japan in recent years. Not only have they had two world champions, Takashi Uchiyama and Takashi Miura, but they have also had a number of notable prospects and hopefuls, as the new generations starts to come through, with the likes of Masayuki Ito and Kenichi Ogawa.
This coming Saturday we are going to see a new national champion being crowned as Teiken's Masaru Sueyoshi (15-1, 10) takes on veteran Ribo Takahata (13-7-1, 5) for the title vacated by Ogawa. It's a battle between rising youngster and a hard luck veteran, who are both looking to secure their biggest career win, and put themselves on the proverbial boxing map.
Of the two men it's the 26 year old Sueyoshi who should be favoured, and is certainly the man flying high, in good form and with a lot of confidence. He debuted in 2011 and suffered his sole defeat the following year in a split decision loss to Masayuki Ito, of whom there is no shame in losing to. Since then he has reeled off 12 straight wins and climbed up the Japanese rankings in pretty impressive fashion.
Sueyoshi's career isn't full of big wins, but he has seen off the likes of Yuta Nagai, Kazumi Sanpei, Shingo Eto and come through the aggressive Allan Vallespin. They are wins won't mean much outside of Asia, but they were solid wins on the domestic, and even regional, scene.
In the ring Sueyoshi is a genuine talent. He's a solid boxer with nice text book skills, who has been allowed to develop under the TV cameras due to regular appearances on the G+ “Dynamic Glove” shows. Those appearances have shown that Sueyoshi is a composed fighter, especially under pressure, and that he knows how to move, how to box and how to counter. Saying that however he has shown holes in his defense, and has been backed up a bit too easily by aggressive fighters. There is a good fighter here, but one who is clearly a work in progress, and isn't an obvious air apparent to the two Takashi's.
Whilst Sueyoshi is a rising star the same can't be said for the 38 year old Takahata, who has a “win-loss-win-loss” record going back to September 2010, winning 8 and losing 7 of his last 15, and if the pattern continues he's set for another loss. On one hand that's poor form, on the other hand he has faced good fighters, losing to the likes of Rikki Naito, Shingo Eto, Kenichi Ogawa and Daiki Kaneko, and has scored notable wins over Johnrieil Maligro and Yusuke Tsukada.
Takahata isn't a fighter who has shown incredible skills or power but his will to win is credible and his ability to come back from set backs is impressive. He has developed a tougher mentality in the ring in recent times, and took Daiki Kaneko 10 rounds not too long ago. Despite that he has been stopped twice and isn't the sturdiest, even if he has developed a more survival mentality. In the ring he has a rather peculiar style, with very flat feet and footwork that constantly looks wrong. Although not a puncher his recent win over Tsukada did come from a dynamite short right hand, so we know when he connects clean he can take them out.
Coming into this Takahata will know this is going to be his only shot at a title, a loss here and retirement looms. A win on the other hand could see him extending his career, making a defense of the title and keeping his career alive. Sadly for Takahata we can't see him coping with the movement, youthfulness and energy of Sueyoshi. We aren't expecting a thrilling fight, but we do imagine that Sueyoshi will win with either a wide decision or a late stoppage.
Having canned the old "Full Schedule" of Asianboxing we have instead decided to concentrate more on the major bouts. This section, the "Preview" section will look at major bouts involving OPBF and national titles. Hopefully leading to a more informative style for, you the reader.